La Paisa (810 St. Clair West, at Greensides, 416-787-1330) Complete meals for $14 per person, including all taxes, tip and a Colombian coffee. Open Tuesday to Sunday 1 to 11 pm. Closed Monday. Licensed. Access: one small step up to the door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
When la paisa moved east, out of its used-car lot at St. Clair and Lansdowne, it picked up a few more tables and a licence. But the menu didn't become any more vegetarian-friendly.
Bandeja Paisa ($12), for example, is a hearty combo of all things greasy the Colombian version of a heart attack on a plate.
Though the steak is a little tough and the beef-pork sausage is on the dry side, both are flavourful, and the sausage is well spiced.
An über-crispy, caramelized piece of glistening belly fat, the pork crackling may be an acquired taste for some as far as texture goes.
The interesting Bandeja is finished with a runny fried egg, buttery rice, beans, lightly fried plantain and two small pieces of white corn bread.
Deep-frying the fish whole ruins the red snapper ($15.99), its delicate flesh overwhelmed by the flavour of fishy skin. It's plated with rice and plantain that's been pounded into a starchy flat disc and deep-fried.
Empanadas ($1.25) continue the deep-fried theme. Ground beef, scallions and potatoes are stuffed into a thin corn dough shel.
As a rule, I hate tamales, and La Paisa's ($8) fails to convert me. It's made up of mushy corn meal, a whole chicken drumstick, a large piece of juicy, tender pork rib, potatoes and carrots served rustically on a banana leaf.
The meat's good, but it could do without the bland sludge.
Guanábana and lulo, fresh juices blended with milk ($3.50), are a frothy treat.
If you're a greasy-spoon-loving carnivore looking for a spin on the classic bacon, steak and eggs, consider La Paisa. It may be the perfect place for you.